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JohnMickish

Trolling 101, trolling rods

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Trolling rods, where do you start?

5 foot shorties, 7 foot, 8 foot, 8 and a half foot, 9 foot, 10 foot, 12 foot, 14 foot and OMG, did I see a 16 foot trolling rod? Graphite, fiberglass and composite mixes, one piece, two piece and telescoping, then add in the weight and actions, light, medium, medium heavy, heavy and moderate, moderate fast, fast, a extra fast! Add in that there are leadcore rods, planner board rods, dipsey rods, downrigger rods and long lining trolling rods. $30 trolling rods and $300 trolling rods. You will lose sleep over it if you think about it too hard.

Can you have one rod that fits all techniques? Yes, maybe and no. The first thing we need to do when picking out a rod is to decide how we are going to use it. There are a couple of techniques that can share a rod, but some techniques are really better with a dedicated rod.

Lets tackle things one at a time.

Leadcore AKA "lead": These rods are usually a specific action, they need a very strong backbone with a softer midsection and a sensitive tip. A good tip will allow you to see that the lure is still working and not fouled up with leaves or grass. A long, soft midsection is needed for a couple of reasons. Lead has allot of drag when being pulled thru the water and that by itself will tax a normal rod. Since lead is a no stretch line you need some shock absorption to handle the surges the fish will give when hooked up and also to absorb the strikes. A good backbone is needed since most of the time when trolling lead, you do not come to a stop to fight the fish. You do not stop because the other lines will sink to the bottom, usually causing more of a hassle than it's worth.

Rod length. Again, these are general guidelines for two people in the boat. For lead, if you are only going to have one rod per person, the usual length is in the 7-8' range. When fishing two rods per person, the usual tactic is to run a "shortie" rod of about 5' out the back with longer 10'-14' rods mounted further forward. This is to create separation between the lures. I use Jason Mitchell shorties and Scheels 12' rods.

Planer Boards AKA "boards": This rod is very similar in action to the leadcore rod but you do not need the sensitive tip since the board is the first thing in front of the lure. You still need the midsection because the board will put a fair amount of pressure on the rod and the same backbone for the reasons listed above. If you are fishing one rod per person, this is where you can share a rod and by switching reels save some money and space in the boat. You will be better off to use a lead rod for boards rather than a board rod for lead because of the tip action.

Rod length. If fishing one rod, pick something in the 7'-9' range. You want it long enough to keep the line up and out of the waves, but still short enough that taking the board off is not a major pain. Try taking the board off with 12' rods in 3' waves. Not very fun. If fishing two rods per person, keep both rods the same length as you will rotate their position in the boat as needed (if the outside board goes down, move the inside to the front and make it the outside). The rods I use for this are the Okuma Classic Pro GLT 9' Dipsey rod. A very impressive $35 rod!

Long lining, both fireline and mono: We all already own this rod, it's the one we use to cast cranks with. If you need to buy a new one, here are some tips to make it a better choice. A moderate action is preferred for this application. The softer action allows the fish to take the lure further into its mouth before feeling the resistance of the rod, ensuring a more solid hookup. This rod still has the sensitive tip so you can see what is going on with the lure, and the backbone to bring the fish to the net. This rod also doubles as an excellent bottom bouncer rod. When choosing a rod here, if you are using fireline pick one power level lower than you would with mono. Since the fireline has zero stretch you need something to give or you will be pulling the lures out of the fish's mouth.

Rod length. The same rules apply here too. In the 7' range for one rod, and a long/short combo for two rods. I have been experimenting with the longer Salmon rods as my long outer rods since nobody makes a long trolling rod for fireline. and am very happy with the results. I use a 10' Cabelas Salmon float rod for my outers and the Jason Mitchell shorties for my inners. When trolling one rod, I will use my St. Croix 7' Medium Moderate bottom bouncing rod. (Here is a hint, bottom bouncer and crankbait rods are the same rod)

A person does not need to spend a ton of money on their trolling rods, you are better off spending the money on a quality reel since the drag will get a workout. Snags and powerful fish strikes can smoke a cheap reels drag in a hurry. I did say that big money isn't needed, but I will also say that I have had the opportunity to troll on a few occasions with the G Loomis 1265 rod (another Salmon float rod, it's where I got the idea from) and it is hands down the best trolling rod I have ever used. I don't own any those trolling rods, but if I could you know I would!

There are lots of good trolling rods out there from Limit Creek, Okuma, St. Croix, G Loomis, Shimano, Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, Daiwa, Shimano, Ugly Stick and others. Some are more regional than others, and here in Minnesota it's hard to find a store that carries a good selection of trolling rods so I hope this helps in your selection.

Next section we will get into more of the meat and potatoes of trolling and everyone's favorite subject, TERMINAL TACKLE!

Please fish responsibly and remember, limit your take, don't take your limit.

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Great report, once again!

Are you a believer in the theory that a longer rod does better--even when fishing one rod per person--because it gets the lure a little farther from the boat? I've read about this in relation to trolling shallow water during the spring and fall, and also in regard to trolling lead out deep. On the one hand, some argue it makes sense because the boat might/does spook fish, and having the lure a little farther away means you're more likely to still get it in their face without the fuss of a planer board, but on the other hand, does the difference between an 8 and a 14 ft rod make a difference when the lure is 125 feet behind the boat? For what it's worth, I trolled anything from 7 to 12 ft rods this fall and didn't notice a difference in catch rates (though, to be honest, I didn't record in my journal which length of rod was catching the fish), so at this point I'm a bit skeptical that the few extra feet are worth the price of a new combo.

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Carmike here is something to consider. When you are catching fish take notice to which set up is the first one to get bit. The 7' or 12' rod may only be part of the equation. Was it the rod that had the shortest amount of line out? When trolling over a school of fish the most active ones may just hit the first bait it sees?

Ice Wolf

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When fishing one rod per person, I am a firm believer in using "normal" length rods soley because they are easier to work with. If I think I am missing fish because the lure is to close to the boat, I will then use planer boards to get the lure out. 10+ foot rods do a great job at spreading out the lures but if you are new to the long rod world, they can be a source of great frustration.

For example, I took a co-worker down to the river last spring trolling leadcore. The first fish we hooked up with was on the long rod and was a decent 15" Sauger, and since he was new to the trolling world I let him reel it in. Well, he got excited and reeled it in rigt up to the tip. I looked at him and asked what he was going to do with it now. He let out a little line to make it nettable and just like that, a little slack and the fish was gone. There is a little bit of a learning curve when using long rods.

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Mnfishinguy need help. I am looking at purchasing 2 rods each for use with leadcore and planer boards. So 2 rods will be the norm when I am out trolling. I am finding it hard to find these type of rods for I do not know what lure and line weight and what action they should be? I want 8' rods but most manufactures don't spec there rods as leadcore use at a 8' length?

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I have not pulled the trigger on reels or rods yet.

I was thinking on Daiwa sealine 47s. As far as budget I like to buy good quality equipment that will last for years.

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If I think I am missing fish because the lure is to close to the boat, I will then use planer boards to get the lure out.

Not to be too picky, but how do you know it's the lack of distance from the boat that's causing you to miss fish?

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Yes, those long rods take a bit of getting used to. After a few trips, I was pretty good with our 12 footer, but it still did cause some headaches. smile

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Mnfishinguy need help. I am looking at purchasing 2 rods each for use with leadcore and planer boards. So 2 rods will be the norm when I am out trolling. I am finding it hard to find these type of rods for I do not know what lure and line weight and what action they should be? I want 8' rods but most manufactures don't spec there rods as leadcore use at a 8' length?

Here's a couple suggestions for you:

Scheel's Pro Classic 8'-6" Medium Fast (telescoping) = $79.99

Bass Pro Shops Walleye Angler Series 8'-6" Medium Fast (telescoping) = $89.99

I have the Scheel's rods for my leadcore rods and they should have

no problem with boards either. The BPS rods are almost, if not, the most

popular trolling rod amongst the walleye tournament guys. A lot of the trollers out east use these rods for planer boards. They'd be fine for lead as well.

Get some Sealine 47 reels for your lead and Sealine 27 reels for you planer boards and you'd be set. You could swap reels back and forth on your rods until you add a few more rods to the collection and have dedicated leadcore rods and dedicated planer board rods.

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Not to be too picky, but how do you know it's the lack of distance from the boat that's causing you to miss fish?

You never "know", you only assume. If you knew it was the problem you wouldn't do it, right? Getting the lures away from the boat is especially important on clear water lakes and when running shallow.

If in doubt, throw out a board and see what happends. There are lakes like Green Bay, Bays de Noc and Erie where planer boards are the norm for both cranks and crawler harnesses, even in deep water. Here in Minnesota, some of our clear water lakes like Mille Lacs, Minnetonka and Leech if you use planer boards to get your lures out away from the boat it sure won't cost you fish.

One of the benefits of a running a planer board is you can send a lure up shallow (I mean SHALLOW) and see whats happends, but more on this to come in the next segment.

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Chris points out a couple of great rods there. I would say the Scheels rods are a better fit only due to the availability to us in MN, but both are good.

Depending on the budget, if looking to enter into it I'd say to go with the Okuma GLT rods. $35 and they are FANTASTIC but kind of hard to find around Minnesota. Fleet Farm is the only place I know that carries them. I personally would pay the shipping on the Okuma rods before I spent the same money on the Cabelas Depthmaster rods.

If your looking for good leadcore rods that can do double duty and you have some cash to spend, I'd look at the St. Croix Eyecon trolling rods. A variety of lengths to fit your need and available virtually everywhere. Limit Creek makes a great trolling rod too, but again the availability may or may not be a factor. Jason Mitchell has a complete new line coming out for 2013, and I am excited to see what they have. The availability should be pretty good for those rods.

For specifics, choose a rod in the 7'-8'6" range, medium power with a moderate action and you will be set.

I didn't cover this before, but you will notice that just about every trolling rod has a EVA or shrinkwrap on the handle and not cork. The reason for this is the cork gets beat up pretty bad in the rodholders.

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I just got the new Cabelas catalog and they have some new trolling gear out for 2013. They now carry the good Okuma reels and also have a Cabelas branded "Cold Water" line counter. It looks pretty sweet. They have also entered into the $100 trolling rod market with a new rod as well.

I noticed too that Scheels is also a supplier of the Okuma rods.

Just some more places to shop for stuff.

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Wait till the next segment comes out! We have talked a little about line, rods and reels. The next part will start to put it all together.

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I just got some hot of the press info on the Jason Mitchell trolling rods. As mentioned they are all new for this year (not just the trolling rods, all of the rods have been re-done). The old style 5' shorties where given the "best shorty rod" vote by the now out of production FLW walleye magazine. I have the old style rods with the cork grips and can't imagine how they improved them. I might have to get some of the new ones now.

The new trolling rods will now feature a diamond shrinkwrap butt and foregrip so they can handle the abuse of sitting in the rod holders.

The lengths are going to be

5' Shorty medium power heavy moderat action leadcore rod "E"glass construction

8'6" telescopic medium power heavy moderate fast action planer board rod "E"glass/IM7 graphite construction

10'6" 2 piece medium power moderate action trolling rod IM8 graphite construction

These will be coming out in March and will probably be available at the sport show.

I like the idea of a moderate fast action on the planer board rods, plus the combo material buildup. That should make fighting the fish after the board comes off a little easier.

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Been fast trolling up in Canada now for our Fall trip for the last 5 or 6 years. really getting into the fast trolling in deeper water for big eyes. We use deep diving lures and usually troll from 3 to 4 mph.

Had always used my "normal" 7 foot casting rods in the rod holders. This year I finally purchased a 8 foot 6 inch rod. We had it in one rod holder and the usual 7 footer in the other rod holder. The 8 foot 6 inch rod outperformed the other 7 footer by far. Why? I wish I knew for exactly sure. Did the longer rod have a better "action" than the 7 footer for the lures we were using and the fish liked the action better? Or did the longer rod get the lure just that much further out from the boat and thus was able to get the lure in front of the walleyes as they scattered from the boat. I just really dont know? Also, keep in mind the average depth we were fishing was 30 to 50 feet. Would the fish really scatter that much that deep? Whatever the answer is...I am bringing 2 longer rods this year and may step up to a 9 footer.

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When you guys long line trolling, especially in water less than 15 ft, are you using line counter reels such as the Daiwa Sealine 27s or are you using your regular bait casters? I'm looking at buying a St. Croix Eyecon 7' MH Moderate action and wasn't sure if I should pair it with a bait casting reel or a line counter. This rod will be used for long line trolling as well as pulling bottom bouncers.

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Linecounters are nice but they aren't necessary. I put a bobber stop on the line exactly 100' from the lure, and then another one at 150'. I might not get it EXACTLY the same distance out each time, but I can get it pretty close. If you're got the $$, get a linecounter, but last year I just used my largemouth reels and they worked just fine.

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Hoffer, funny how stuff like that can make all the difference, isn't it. I have to say that one of two things was happening.

1; The longer rod probably had a softer action that allowed the bait to act in a different way than the other bait. A stiff action rod will usually make the lure react in a tighter, harder wobble because the rod is pulling back harder everytime the lure puts pressure on it. A softer action rod allows the crank to run more like it was designed to run, that is why most crank trolling rods are in the moderate action range. Sometimes though, the harder action is what will trigger the bites.

2; The othe possibility could have been the reel or the line on it. Unless you where bouncing the lure off bottom, the lure on the longer rod may have been running either slightly higher or lower in the water. This is why I am such a big fan of running all the reels the same size and model, with the line, test and amount of line being the same.

Repeatability is the key.

I guess there is a third possibility, not all lures are the same. Some just catch more fish than it's identcal twin, or one may have been in a better state tune.

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If it where me, I'd purchase two reels. A linecounter and a baitcasting reel with a flippin' switch.

You can pick up a good used linecounter for way less than $50, and get a new flippin' switch reel for under $80.

The reason I would use a linecounter instead of any other method is for repeatability. Bobber stops move, metered line is a great idea and will get you close, but if you want to get back to exactly where you caught that last fish, the only way to do it is with a linecoutner. Sometimes the fish want it at 112' and not at 115', and the only way I know how to repeat that is with the linecounter.

On my BB rods I use Quantum Accurist reels. These have great drags and a flippin switch. I (I am not alone in this) use the flippin switch because it allows me to instantly adjust my depth with one hand. If it gets a little shallower I can roll the spool with my thumb, if it gets deeper I hit the release bar and when it gets to where I want it, let go and it's done.

If I could only have one reel, between the two I'd go with the flippin switch and metered line.

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I don't think I talked about this, but when reeling in a fish when trolling, DO NOT pump the rod, just reel it in nice and slow. This is where the moderate or soft action of the rod comes into play. The action of the rod allows the rod to stay loaded and keep pressure on the fish. Pumping the rod can allow the hook to wiggle, making the hole larger and the posibility of the fish throwing the hook get bigger.

The key is to just keep pressure on the fish, keep the drag a little on the loose side if needed. You only get so many 10+ pound walleyes in your life, you don't want to risk loosing one.

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"I don't think I talked about this, but when reeling in a fish when trolling, DO NOT pump the rod, just reel it in nice and slow."

No kidding!! mad We were on a charter fishing Erie. The first couple of guys thoght they were jocks at fishing and would pull and pump the rod. They lost every fish til one of the other guys showed them how to do and not loose a fish!

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